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Port of Oakland urges truckers to end AB5 protest

Truckers gear up for fourth day of protests, bringing port operations to standstill

Trucks line up to enter a Port of Oakland shipping terminal on Nov. 10, 2021, in Oakland, Calif. The City of Oakland and port officials are suing some independent truckers who protested against AB5. (Photo: Associated Press file photo)

Port of Oakland officials are urging truckers to end their protest over AB5 as the independent contractors prepare to block the terminals for the fourth day on Thursday, bringing container movement at California’s third-largest port to a standstill.

Ahead of Thursday’s demonstration, the three main terminals at the port — Oakland International Container Terminal, also known as SSA, TraPac and Everport — closed operations for both shifts.

Truckers initially planned a three-day protest in Oakland but are digging in after receiving no response Wednesday from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed AB5 — a controversial statute that seeks to limit the use of independent contractors and largely classify them as employee drivers — into law nearly three years ago. 

The protesters held signs directed at Newsom on Wednesday reading, “The cargo won’t flow until AB5 goes.” 

“Since the beginning of the trucker protests on Monday, port staff have been providing federal and state officials regular informational updates about the operational status of our port,” Roberto Bernardo, director of communications for the Port of Oakland, told FreightWaves in an email Thursday. 

In a statement late Wednesday, the port confirmed the trucker protests that started Monday over the implementation of AB5 “have effectively shut down operations at shipping terminals at the Port of Oakland.”

“We understand the frustration expressed by the protesters at California ports,” said Danny Wan, executive director of the Port of Oakland. “But prolonged stoppage of port operations in California for any reason will damage all the businesses operating at the ports and cause California ports to further suffer market-share losses to competing ports.” 

Legal challenges prevented the law from going into effect in January 2020. 

That all changed when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the California Trucking Association’s challenge to AB5 in late June, returning the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Truckers want Newsom and the California legislature to exempt independent contractors from AB5 as they have done for other industries, including lawyers, real estate agents and accountants. 

Proposition 22, which passed in November 2020, exempted app-based, ride-share companies Uber and Lyft from AB5.

Port truckers carried signs reading, “We demand an exemption now. We deserve respect for keeping the world economy and the USA rolling.”

Independent drivers contend clarification is needed about how AB5 will be enforced and how to ensure independent contractors comply with the law. 

Truckers have dug in for the fourth day of protesting California’s controversial independent contractor law that affects 70,000 drivers. (Photo: Clarissa Hawes/FreightWaves)

The independent contractor law not only affects California truckers but millions of freelance writers, translators, artists and consultants in the state. Many are supporting the truckers’ protest on social media, urging Newsom and the legislature to repeal AB5 or exempt them as well.  

Despite the three terminal closures at Oakland and port officials calling for an end to the AB5 protests, an estimated 800 truckers still plan to show up Thursday “to show they are not relenting.”

“The truckers want an exemption and they’re not stopping until they get it,” Kimberly Sulsar-Campos, vice president of Oakland-based Iraheta Bros. Trucking, told FreightWaves.

Late Wednesday, Bobby Olvera Jr., vice president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, issued a statement about its position on AB5. 

“The ILWU believes collective bargaining is fundamental to workplace fairness and safety, as well as a foundation of democratic society,” Olvera’s statement read. “That’s why we support AB5: It aims to stop employers from misclassifying workers in order to stop these workers from forming unions and improving their lives.”

Farless Dailey III, president of ILWU Local 10, also released a statement Wednesday addressing the incident at the SSA terminal after 100 members refused to cross the protest line as truckers showed up early to block the gates.

“The workers stood by on health and safety, as is permitted in our contract when conditions at the terminals present a risk,” Dailey said.

Nearly 22,000 ILWU dockworkers have been without a contract since July 1. FreightWaves interviewed some of them as they headed to their cars Tuesday.

“We are working without a contract right now, so we support the owner-operators and understand what they are trying to do,” said George, a nine-year ILWU member, who didn’t want to give his last name.

ILWU 10 covers San Francisco, Oakland and other Bay Area ports.

Wan said the state is now offering resources to help truckers comply with the law but didn’t provide any details.  

“Truckers are vital to keeping goods moving,” Wan said. “We trust that implementation of AB5 can be accomplished in a way that accommodates the needs of this vital part of the supply chain.” 

Read more here:

Truckers at Oakland protest say ‘cargo won’t flow until AB5 goes’
Unionized workers refuse to cross truckers’ AB5 protest line at Port of Oakland
Hundreds of truckers block Oakland terminal access to protest AB5


  1. Lucky13NSpades

    Just make all owner operators, owners of the business. Create stock and each owner operator gets a share to make them an owner, Problem solved, big middle finger to California!

  2. James

    California government are foolish and people are tired of them and our federal government trying to control everything. They don’t care about the livelihood of the american people. Only about money and controlling people.

  3. truckerhawk

    There are several Issues here. One is these protesters are not Owner Operators. They are Leased on Drivers. I wish they would correct this. I am a real 100% Owner Operator out of California. Not leased onto anyone. The only thing stopping me right now is these protesters blocking my loads out of the port. These protester’s are hurting incident worker, truckers, shippers, and business that have nothing to do with AB-5. What’s going to happen and is happening. These protesters are doing damage to ports system that may cause a very long affects that will only hurt incident people. Like what was said about AB-5, that it has been knowing for a few years now. These leased contracted drivers had time to get there act together to continue operating. They did not. They were waiting on the courts to solve the problem. They should of been proactive like the Big Trucking Companies pulled there Leased Drivers out of California. I guess that was not a big Hint to do something to protect themselves. Now they waited to the last minute and now for there lack of taking care of Business is to make us pay the price. Also there was a recall election recalling the Governor of California that could have put a stop to all of this. But that failed. So stop reelecting the same idiots into office is one way to solve this. Now these Protesters need to take this fight to Downtown Sacramento to the Governors front Door and his Attorney General. Not the Ports or to the Truckers or the port workers. The Governor is not going to help anyone. He wants more tax revenues. He not going to answer your email the protesters sent him. The Governor not coming to the Port. So you need to go to the Capital and get his attention. Stop hurting innocent people. Stop calling these contracted driver Owner Operators!

    1. Matthew

      Government should fix particular loophole fining and banning employees cheating getting paid as 1099 instead of punishing whole system. I hope all of you move out of that state as there’s more work than we, in the free world, can handle. King Newsom can lead by exa and drive a truck for someone for 25$/hr.

    2. James

      Typically self centered liberal thinking. Maybe instead of complaining about them standing up for them selves you join them. You know you want to say you’re an owner operator well then act like one and remember the brother hood that was started by owner operators. Your attitude and thinking is exactly why as truckers we get the shaft repeatedly. I hope they shut it down and don’t let up until they get what they deserve.

    3. Karan

      Why are these drivers not owner operators? Just because they don’t have their own authority doesn’t make them any less of o/o than someone who does. I have my own truck and am leased on with a company. They don’t pay for my fuel or repairs. They don’t make my truck payment or pay for my insurance. So how am I and 1000’s of others not owner operators? Maybe as an o/o you should be sticking behind these drivers instead of talking smack because they don’t do things the way you think they should. And what’s next, they will say you can’t have your own authority in this state. And in a state with a majority of idiots there not much those of us with common sense can do when it comes to elections. Your whole statement was ignorant and you are not superior to anyone.

  4. Vincent Cook

    Hooray for the independent truckers! The freedom-hating “you will own nothing and be happy” corporatists who are trying to put them out of business and make every working person a slave to their woke/green/vaxxed/meta agenda while cancelling the values America was founded upon can go get stuffed.

    If the Port of Oakland officials had any sense, they would realize that the same sinister political forces that are going after the truckers have also been plotting to seize their waterfront land to convert it to other uses, like the A’s baseball stadium project. Likewise, other businesses associated with the port are prize fools if they think Sacramento politicians won’t go after them next. No business is safe in California.

    1. eddie v

      We the owner ops around the United States are with them 100% and needed I believe we would be out there doing what has to be done to make things write again

Comments are closed.

Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa has covered all aspects of the trucking industry for 14 years. She is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative and business reporting. Before joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and If you have a news tip or story idea, send her an email to [email protected]